Son of Kong (1933) – Ernest B. Schoesdack

 

As I continue my exploration of Sci-Fi Chronicles, I found myself looking forward to taking in the next bunch of film recommendations this one supplied me with in that I had only ever seen the original King Kong, which I reviewed previous to this, and the Jackson remake (thoughts on that one will follow when I take a look at it officially for the blog).

This 1933 treasure picks up shortly after the events of the first film, and it seems that Carl Denham (once again enjoyably brought to life by Robert Armstrong) can’t seem to catch a break as he dodges reporters, possible lawsuits and all manner of trouble caused by Kong’s arrival in New York. Commissioning Captain Englehorn (Frank Reicher) again, the two set off in his ship, amidst rumors and thoughts of returning to Kong’s island in hope of catching more docile prey, and perhaps a treasure that may be buried there somewhere.

Along the way they pick up a lovely show girl, Hilda (Helen Mack) who stows away on the ship for the adventure, and gives Denham his own love story this time around, which is fun to see, his gruff exterior giving way to Hilda’s charms…

Trouble rears its head when arriving at the island, the crew mutinies, refusing to set foot there, and Denham, Hilda the captain and the nefarious Helstrom (John Marston) are left to explore on their own.

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At 43 minutes, more than the halfway mark for the lean running 70 minute feature, we get our first look at Son of Kong, and his behavior truly illustrates how light the story is this time around. After Denham and Hilda rescue the scamp from some quicksand, he returns the favor by saving them from a giant bear, proceeds to help them find the treasure and fends off a strange-looking dinosaur, all before the entire island is destroyed in an earthquake. And while he’s doing that, he actually mugs for the camera, is a bit of a suck but hopefully, with his sacrifice after 20 odd minutes of screen time will encourage Denham to perhaps not make a living off of animals anymore.

This ended up being a fun romp, the aramature work and creation of the effects, while not quite as amazing as the previous film make up for it with their sheer joy. The first time Kong breaks the fourth wall to make a face at the audience caused me to laugh aloud. For a short film, I like the fact that we got to see Denham develop a little more from his appearance in the first film, and his interactions with Hilda give the film a nice heart. You know that the two of them will probably end up somewhere together, putting on a show of some sort, making a fair buck, and be very much in love… and hopefully never encounter any over-sized monsters ever again.

The next Kong film on my list sees the big ape taking on the iconic Godzilla in 1962’s King Kong Vs. Godzilla!

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